DMA switches to principles based code

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has overhauled its code of conduct replacing 170 pages of prescriptive rules with five principles that it hopes will help its members build and maintain the trust of their customers. 

Government Open Data
The DMA’s new principles-based code aims to address data transparency concerns.

The five principles are: ‘Put your customer first’, ‘Respect privacy’, ‘Be honest and fair’, ‘Be diligent with data’ and ‘Take responsibility’.

Underpinning each principle are three outcomes that colour each. For example, for the principle ‘Be honest and fair’ the outcomes are: ‘Companies are clear, open and transparent about all costs and processes’, ’companies must not mislead customers through omission or exaggeration’ and ‘companies deliver what they promise’.

All DMA members are required to adhere to its code. Those that break the rules, or as it is now, act contrary to the spirit of principles, will be expelled from the association, a move intended to cause reputational damage.

Speaking to Marketing Week, DMA chief executive Chris Combemale says in a digital world where members can access details of the regulatory requirements of the Committee of Advertising Practice and Information Commissioner’s Office easily its code needs to inspire members to conduct their business better rather than offer a prescriptive rules driven document.

Ensuring transparency is particularly important to address concern over data capture and use, he adds.   

“If people follow the codes they will ensure they have the trust of their customers. If they are not open and honest people will stop sharing data with them.”

The unveiling of the new code comes ahead of the relaunch of the DMA website. The site includes ten new channel guides including email, mobile and data and is designed to be interactive allowing users to create their own resource tools.   

The code comes into force on 18 August. The website is expected to relaunch later this month.   



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